Is My Dog Spoiled?
[The Definitive Guide]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Want a well-behaved dog? You’ll have to put the work in proper training! Doggy training isn’t enormously challenging, but it requires firmness and consistency.

Sometimes though, things can go wrong. If you didn’t have enough time with your dog or outright neglected their needs, you will likely have a huge overindulgence problem.

What to do if you didn’t dedicate due time and effort to your doggo? Is it too late?

I can certainly say that things can still be fixed, but unspoiling your dog will require much more dedication than puppy training. With that, let me give you a few tips on how to unspoil your dog!

Is My Dog Spoiled?

So first and foremost, is your dog truly spoiled?

This can be a tough question because “spoiled” is subjective in some ways.

I suppose you could take one of those “Is my dog spoiled” quizzes – they can be fairly useful if you don’t know what to do. 

But I sometimes find their questions ridiculous. Like, one of the quizzes I passed asked me whether my dog’s collar had real gemstones.

Is a dog spoiled if they have a dozen of outfits or a collar infused with 24-karat gold? Of course not! Things like these don’t matter to pets, so calling a dog spoiled just because their owner is ready to spend extra money on them is, to me, erroneous (although if an owner invests in a golden collar, they likely have spoiled their dog in other ways.).

Pets don’t care about luxury – they need food, a safe place for dwelling, attention, and socialization. These are the things that you may spoil your dog with.

Owners may have different views of “spoiled”

Some owners allow their dogs onto the furniture, buy them plenty of toys, and give them all the food they need. Such care and attention aren’t necessarily spoiling as long as the owner is fine with how their pooch behaves.

Not every owner is going to be okay with such behavior, though. If you think that your dog sleeping on your bed is not okay, then you will need to take measures to bring them back to acceptable territory.

Likewise, sharing their plate with their pets is completely natural for some people, while others will consider this outrageously barbaric.

However, some things will be maddening for most, if not all, owners – for example, constant barking to get attention.

So is your dog spoiled? Depends on whether or not you think they have more privileges than they should.

I personally wouldn’t allow my dog to eat from my plate. This is, at the very least unhygienic. Besides, I wouldn’t want my dog to think that they can jump onto everybody’s meal. I don’t think my guests would be very appreciative of a dog trying to snatch food from them.

However, many of you may be completely fine with such a doggy bearing.

When trying to figure out if your doggo’s actions are fine or not, ask yourself this – do you see a problem? If not, you may not need to fix anything. 

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Your dog’s behavior should be socially acceptable

Aside from your own views about proper dog behavior, you should also take into account what counts and doesn’t count as socially acceptable.

As a simple example, should your dog jump onto everybody as a greeting gesture? I personally don’t think so. It may look super-cute, and you may love your dog more than anything else in the world, but not everybody will be thrilled.

Another good example is eating from their owner’s plate. If you welcome such conduct, your dog may think that other people will be fine as well. But this won’t necessarily be the case.

Likewise, there may be many other completely okay habits for you but totally unacceptable for others.

So, in the end, you should yourself define what is and is not allowed for your dog. However, you shouldn’t act like an entitled jerk – other people’s feelings and opinions matter too

Prevention Is Key To Proper Doggy Behavior

Hopefully, you’ve determined by now that your dog’s behavior isn’t excessively pushy or clingy. Because if it is, you’ve got plenty of work to do.

In case you’ve just adopted a puppy or are considering one, know that prevention – that is, early obedience training – is key to proper behavior down the line.

It’s much easier to form appropriate conduct from the ground up than break existing habits in an attempt to replace them with new ones.
Training should begin from puppyhood – otherwise, without your firm hand and well-defined boundaries, your dog may start behaving as they please. You’ll then have a tough time trying to convince your dog that they can’t live as freely as they would like.

Why Do Dogs Get Spoiled?

Dogs get spoiled when their owners don’t teach them what is appropriate and what is not.

In case you didn’t know, dogs like following their owners’ commands and are well-adapted to training. However, training routines for dogs need to follow a few rules – most importantly, you need to be consistent and firm

Not only that, but you need to be creative enough to be able to come up with ways to positively enforce your dog in your own unique home environment. People have different needs, capabilities, and schedules, and you’ll need to work around them to achieve visible results.

If you fail to firmly and consistently work on your dog’s behavior, you can be sure that something will go wrong. How is your pooch going to know if barking all day is not okay if you don’t show that with action?

Whether you are lazy or don’t dedicate the due amount of effort and time to obedience training, lack of control is likely going to turn your dog into a pushy and unceremonious creature.

So, How To Unspoil Your Dog?

If your dog has become spoiled, it’s not the end of the world.

True, it will take a lot of effort to drag your doggo away from the dark side. But it’s entirely possible as long as you are ready to work consistently and know what to do.

Here are some of the steps you could take to unspoil your dog. Essentially, you need to do the same things you would do when training a puppy. It’s just that the process will be more challenging and will take more time.

Start with the basics

If your doggo doesn’t obey even the simplest of commands, you should start with the basics – commands like sit, stay, down, and come. In other words, start with obedience training.

Every time your dog gets a command right, you should reward them with a treat to form a positive association with the action.

Obedience training is the staple of dog training. Not only does it teach the dog manners, but it also helps you understand how dogs should be treated to get the desired result.

Set rules and boundaries

To develop clear rules and boundaries, your dog needs to understand what counts as right or wrong. Rewards and treats are an easy way to encourage your pooch and let them know that they are doing the right thing.

As an example, suppose we are trying to discourage a dog from getting on furniture. You should remove your dog from the furniture and say a command, like “off.” 
Next, to encourage the dog to stay off furniture, you could provide them with a comfy spot on the floor with their favorite toys. When the dog goes to this spot, you should play with them or give them a treat to create positive associations. You could also make dog repellent – like the fragrant zest of citrus fruits – to keep the dog away from furniture.

In this example, you essentially replace an undesirable activity with a desirable one. And to keep your dog doing what you want, you need to reward them when they obey your commands.

As another example, if you are trying to keep your dog off your bed at nighttime, you should set up a comfy spot for them with their favorite toys. Put the dog in that spot and praise them for staying here.

If the doggo then tries to get onto your bed, put them back in their sleeping spot and command “bed,” “sleep,” or something similar. Praise the dog for obeying the command with a treat.

Fix eating habits

Stop giving your dog food when they beg for it and don’t feed them from your plate

Following our example of replacing one activity with another, you could feed your dog in a separate room when you sit down at the table. Alternatively, give your dog a chew toy to keep them occupied.

Whining or jumping should be met with a firm and consistent “no” or “down.” You may also try ignoring your dog when they try to extort food from you, but this doesn’t work for everybody.

Ignore their whims

Simply ignoring a dog’s whims can be a powerful way of unspoiling them. Not everybody has the consistency or nerves for this, though.

Essentially, the idea of ignoring a dog is letting them know that their unpleasant actions won’t bring results

If your dog barks for food and you give them food to quieten them, they will associate the unpleasant action (barking) with their desired result (food). But if you were to ignore your dog’s requests, they may start realizing that barking isn’t the way to get what they want

This is called negative reinforcement. You are taking away the reward to give your dog a clue that they need to do something differently.

As another example, if your doggo barks for attention, you should ignore all of their attempts to get that attention out of you. Don’t hush at them, don’t look at them – measures like these can be counterintuitive since they may count as attention for dogs.

Once your dog stops barking, you may guide them to their bed, command “place,” and give them a treat as a reward.

Abuse And Harsh Punishment Are Not Good Options For Unspoiling Your Dog

No matter what, do not harshly punish your dog in an effort to unspoil them. Don’t throw items at them, don’t yank at their collar, don’t use shock devices, and don’t hit them.
Some people find these “alpha training” methods effective and acceptable, but I personally don’t. Positive reinforcement alone can go a long way if done right.

Beatings, pain, or harsh methods could have a negative effect on your dog. Most importantly, your dog may start fearing you and become isolated – a huge problem for you to deal with.

Training focused on punishment also doesn’t give dogs even the slightest idea of what they should be doing. Instead, they will have to go through trial and error to figure out how to avoid punishment.

Pets may also quickly learn that they won’t be punished for their actions when you are not present. They will learn to stop the improper behavior when you are watching and resume their deeds when you are away.

Very mild forms of punishment – eye contact or pushing the pet away – can be effective, but they work the best when combined with positive reinforcement where you teach the dog what counts as right.


So essentially, to unspoil your dog, you need to employ classical methods of doggy training. But breaking old habits and building new ones can be difficult.

Once again, remember that consistency and firmness are crucial for success. You shouldn’t give a “no” only when you feel like it – your signals need to be clear and ever present to help your dog understand what to do.